PROSECUTION UNDER UP GANGSTERS ACT PERMISSIBLE EVEN IN CASE OF A SINGLE FIR FOR ANTI-SOCIAL ACTIVITIES: SUPREME COURT - Business Guardian
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PROSECUTION UNDER UP GANGSTERS ACT PERMISSIBLE EVEN IN CASE OF A SINGLE FIR FOR ANTI-SOCIAL ACTIVITIES: SUPREME COURT

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In a significant development, we saw how just as recently as on April 26, 2022, the Apex Court in a brief, brilliant, bold and balanced judgment titled Shraddha Gupta vs The State of Uttar Pradesh and Others in Criminal Appeal Nos. 569-570 of 2022 observed that there can be prosecution against a person under Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986, even in case of a single offence/FIR/charge sheet for any of the anti-social activities mentioned in Section 2(b) of the Act. We saw how in this case, the Allahabad High Court had refused to quash the proceedings against the accused under the Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986. The crux of this judgment can be stated thus as noted in judgment itself that, “Even a single crime committed by a ‘Gang’ is sufficient to implant Gangsters Act on such members of the ‘Gang’ – There can be prosecution against a person even in case of a single offence/FIR/charge sheet for any of the anti-social activities mentioned in Section 2(b) of the Act provided such an anti-social activity is by violence, or threat or show of violence, or intimidation, or coercion or otherwise with the object of disturbing public order or of gaining any undue temporal, pecuniary, material or other advantage for himself or any other person. (Para 9-10).”

To start with, this extremely commendable, cogent, composed, courageous and creditworthy judgment authored by Justice MR Shah for a Bench of Apex Court comprising of himself and Justice BV Nagarathna sets the ball rolling by first and foremost putting forth in para 1 that, “Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned order dated 27.09.2019 passed by the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad in Criminal Miscellaneous Writ Petition No. 21964 of 2019 and the subsequent order dated 10.11.2020 passed in Criminal Miscellaneous Review Application No. 2/2019, the original accused, Shraddha Gupta, against whom an FIR has been filed under Section 2/3 of the Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Gangsters Act, 1986’), has filed the present appeals.”

To put things in perspective, the Bench then envisages in para 2 while dwelling on facts that, “The facts leading to the present appeals in nutshell are as under:

That a written report was made by respondent no.4 herein (original informant) on 24.05.2016 to the effect that her sister and her family members had previous enmity with the accused persons, namely, (1) Shravan Kumar (husband of the appellant herein), (2) Guddu @ Sudhanshu, (3) Munna @ Brajendranth Sharma, (4) Kamal Sharma and (5) Bhure. That on 23.5.2016, her sister Kumari Sadhna Sharma, Incharge, DGC(Crl.) in the Court of the District Judge, Badaun, had gone to the Court on her scooty to pursue the cases on behalf of the Government. Bhure and others had a hearing date in the Court of District Judge, Badaun for appearance. At about 5:30 p.m. her sister was returning from Badaun to Ujhani, sitting on the rear seat of the scooty being driven by her servant Bihari. When the scooty reached near Balaji temple, they saw a car parked near the temple in which all the abovenamed accused were present. The car followed the scooty of her sister Sadhna and when she reached near Jiorlia village, the car of the accused rammed into her sister’s scooty with the result both Sadhna and Behari fell on the road. Then the accused drove their car towards her sister, stopped it near Behari and shouted, ‘kill this fellow also otherwise he may also give evidence’. The accused, however, ran away on the arrival of the people. The incident was witnessed by the passer-by and with their help Behari took her sister to Badaun hospital in a vehicle. Her sister Sadhna died in the hospital. The complainant further stated that she had come to the hospital at 11:00 on getting the information and lost her consciousness on seeing the dead body of her sister. The autopsy of the deceased was conducted in the night. When she regained her consciousness, Behari told her the entire incident. After making arrangements for the last rites of her sister, she came to the police station to lodge the report. The complainant alleged that she apprehends the association of the former BJP MLA Yogender Sagar in the entire conspiracy. On the basis of this report, a case under Section 147 , 304, 504, 323, 506, 120-B IPC was registered against the above named six accused persons at P.S. Ujhani, District Badaun, vide Case Crime No. 337/2016 dated 24.05.2016.

2.1 That subsequently on 27.05.2017, a case under Sections 2/3 of the Gangsters Act, 1986 was registered against eight accused persons vide Case Crime No. 268/2017. The charge sheet was filed against the said eight accused persons on 26.5.2018 and the cognizance of the same was taken by the learned Special Judge under the Gangsters Act, Badaun on 2.7.2018.

2.2 It appears that thereafter on further investigation and on the basis of the call recordings between the co-accused, handed over to the Investigating Officer by the complainant, the names of the appellant – Shraddha Gupta, her husband Sharvan Gupta and Kamlesh Sharma, came to light and accordingly they were arrayed as accused in Case Crime No. 337/2016.

2.3 That in the course of investigation, it also revealed that the appellant – Shraddha Gupta, her husband – Sharvan Gupta and Kamlesh Sharma were also involved in the offence pertaining to the conspiracy of murder of deceased Sadhna Sharma. Therefore, supplementary charge sheet was also filed against the aforesaid three accused persons, namely, Shraddha Gupta, Sharvan Gupta and Kamlesh Sharma. That subsequently, it was brought to the notice of the Senior Superintendent of Police, Badaun, that the case under the Gangsters Act, 1986 has been registered only against eight accused persons and the charge sheet has been filed against eleven accused persons in Case Crime No. 337/2016.

2.4 Thereafter, a gang chart was prepared against the appellant and other two accused, which was sent to the Senior Superintendent of Police, District Badaun on 19.03.2019. That thereafter the Joint Director (Prosecution), Badaun granted approval on 1.4.2019 to register a case against the aforesaid three persons under Sections 2/3 of the Gangsters Act, 1986. SSP, Badaun, vide communication dated 2.4.2019 communicated to the Investigating Officer and accordingly FIR dated 27.05.2019 in Case Crime No. 268/2017 under Sections 2/3 of the Gangsters Act has been lodged/registered against the appellant and other two co-accused. Thus, the FIR for the offences under the Gangsters Act has been registered against eleven accused in all (eight accused charged earlier and the three accused including the appellant herein charge sheeted subsequently).

2.5 That the appellant herein filed the present Criminal Miscellaneous Writ Petition No. 21964/2019 before the High Court under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code and prayed for the following reliefs:

i) Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of certiorari to quash the orders dated 7.6.2019 and 2.4.2019 passed by the respondent no.3;

ii) Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of certiorari to quash the impugned FIR dated 27.5.2017 as Case Crime No. 268/2017 under Section 2/3 Gangsters Act, P.S. Ujhani, Dist. Badaun, only to the extent of the petitioner;

iii) Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of mandamus commanding respondents no. 2 and 3 not to arrest the petitioner in case Crime No. 268/2017 under Sections 2/3 Gangsters Act, P.S. Ujhani, District Badaun.

2.6 It was the case on behalf of the appellant that she has been falsely implicated in the case; she was not named in the FIR; in the FIR, no role has been assigned to her; her name has surfaced in further investigation under Section 173(8) Cr.P.C.; the Senior Superintendent of Police, Badaun maliciously submitted the supplementary gang chart against her approved by the District Magistrate, Badaun; that she is neither a gang leader nor a member of the gang being a household lady. It was also the case on behalf of the appellant-accused that solely on the basis of the single FIR/charge sheet, she cannot be charged for the offences under the provisions of the Gangsters Act.

2.7 That by the impugned order, the High Court has dismissed the said writ petition and has refused to quash the criminal proceedings under Sections 2/3 of the Gangsters Act. A review application was also filed which has also been dismissed.

2.8 Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned orders passed by the High Court dismissing the writ petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C. and dismissing the review application, the accused Shraddha Gupta has preferred the present appeals.”

Simply put, the Bench then enunciates in para 6 that, “The short question which is posed for the consideration of this Court is, whether, a person against whom a single FIR/charge sheet is filed for any of the anti-social activities mentioned in section 2(b) of the Gangsters Act, 1986 can be prosecuted under the Gangsters Act. In other words, whether a single crime committed by a ‘Gangster’ is sufficient to apply the Gangsters Act on such members of a ‘Gang’.”

It deserves mentioning that the Bench then observes in para 7 that, “While considering the aforesaid issues/questions, the relevant provisions of the Gangsters Act, 1986 are required to be referred to. The object and purpose of enactment of the Gangsters Act, 1986 is to make special provisions for the prevention of, for coping with, gangsters and anti-social activities and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Section 2(b) defines ‘Gang’ and Section 2(c) defines ‘Gangster’. Sections 2(b) and 2(c) read as under:

“2(b) “Gang” means a group of persons, who acting either singly or collectively, by violence, or threat or show of violence, or intimidation, or coercion or otherwise with the object of disturbing public order or of gaining any undue temporal, pecuniary, material or other advantage for himself or any other person, indulge in anti-social activities (Act no. 2 of 1974), namely—

(i) offences punishable under Chapter XVI, or Chapter XVII, or Chapter XXII of the Indian Penal Code (Act no. 45 of 1860), or

(ii) distilling or manufacturing or storing or transporting or importing or exporting or selling or distributing any liquor, or intoxicating or dangerous drugs, or other intoxicants or narcotics or cultivating any plant, in contravention of any of the provisions of the U.P. Excise Act, 1910 ( U.P. Act no. 4 of 1910) or the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 or any other law for the time being in force, or

(iii) occupying or talking possession of immovable property otherwise than in accordance with law, or setting-up false claims for title or possession of immovable property whether in himself or any other person, or (Act no. 61 of 1985)

(iv) preventing or attempting to prevent any public servant or any witness from discharging his lawful duties, or

(v) offences punishable under the Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls Art, 1956, or

(vi) offences punishable under section 3 of the Public Gambling Act, 1867 ( Act no. 104 of 1956), or

(vii) preventing any person from offering bids in auction lawfully conducted, or tender, lawfully invited, by or on behalf of any Government department, local body or public or private undertaking for any lease or right or supply of goods or work to be done, or

(viii) preventing or disturbing the smooth running by any person of his lawful business profession, trade or employment or any other lawful activity connected therewith, or

(ix) offences punishable under section 171-E of the Indian Penal Code, or in preventing or obstructing any public election being lawfully held, by physically preventing the voter from exercising his electoral rights, or

(x) inciting others to resort to violence to disturb communal harmony, or

(xi) creating panic, alarm or terror in public, or

(xii) terrorising or assaulting employees or owners or occupiers of public or private undertakings or factories and causing mischief in respect of their properties, or

(xiii) inducing or attempting to induce any person to go to foreign countries on false representation that any employment, trade or profession shall be provided to him in such foreign country, or

(xiv) kidnapping or abducting any person with intent to extort ransom, or

(xv) diverting or otherwise preventing any aircraft or public transport vehicle from following its scheduled course;

(c) “gangster” means a member or leader or organiser of a gang and includes any person who abets or assists in the activities of a gang enumerated in clause (b), whether before or after the commission of such activities or harbours any person who has indulged in such activities.”

7.1 Section 3 of the Gangsters Act, 1986 provides for punishment, which reads as under:

“3. (1) A gangster shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than two years and which may extend to ten years and also with fine which shall not be less than five thousand rupees:

Provided that a gangster who commits an offence against the person of a public servant of the person of a member of the family of a public servant shall be punished Kith imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than three years and also with fine which shall not be less than five thousand rupees,

(2) Whoever being a public servant renders any illegal help or support in any manner to a gangster, whether before or after the Commission of any offence by the gangster (whether by himself or through others) or abstains from taking lawful measures or intentionally avoids to carry out the directions of any court or of his superior officers, in this respect, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years but shall not be less than three years and also with fine.”

7.2 Section 5 of the Gangsters Act provides for constitution of Special Courts for the speedy trial of the offences under the Act. Section 6 provides that a Special Court may, if it considers it expedient or desirable so to do, hold its sitting for any of its proceedings at any place, other than the ordinary place of its sitting or seat. Section 8 of the Act provides that when trying any offence punishable under the Gangsters Act, a Special Court may also try any other offence with which the accused may, under any other law for the time being in force, be charged at the same trial. Under Section 9 of the Gangsters Act, the State Government shall appoint a person to be the Public Prosecutor for every Special Court. Section 10 provides that a Special Court may take cognizance of any offence triable by it, without the accused being committed to it for trial upon receiving a complaint of facts which constitute such offence or upon a police report of such facts. Section 12 provides that the trial under the Gangsters Act of any offence by Special Court shall have precedence over the trial of any other case against the accused in any other court ( not being a Special Court) and shall be concluded in preference to the trial of such other case and accordingly the trial of such other case shall remain in abeyance. Section 13 of the Gangsters Act provides that where, after taking cognizance of any offence, a Special Court is opinion that the offence is not triable by it, it shall, notwithstanding that it has no jurisdiction to try such an offence, transfer the case for trial of such offence to any other court having jurisdiction under the Code and the court to which the case is transferred may proceed with the trial of the offence as if it has taken cognizance of the offence.”

It can be thus surmised from what is stated above as noted in para 8 that, “From the aforesaid, it can be seen that all provisions are to ensure that the offences under the Gangsters Act should be given preference and should be tried expeditiously and that too, by the Special Courts, to achieve the object and purpose of the enactment of the Gangsters Act.”

Most significantly, the Bench then minces no words to unequivocally state in para 9 that, “Now so far as the main submission on behalf of the accused that for a single offence/FIR/charge sheet with respect to any of the antisocial activities, such an accused cannot be prosecuted under the Gangsters Act, 1986 is concerned, on a fair reading of the definitions of ‘Gang’ and ‘Gangster’ under the Gangsters Act, 1986, it can be seen that a ‘Gang’ is a group of one or more persons who commit/s the crimes mentioned in the definition clause for the motive of earning undue advantage, whether pecuniary, material or otherwise. Even a single crime committed by a ‘Gang’ is sufficient to implant Gangsters Act on such members of the ‘Gang’. The definition clause does not engulf plurality of offence before the Gangsters Act is invoked.

A group of persons may act collectively or anyone of the members of the group may also act singly, with the object of disturbing public order indulging in anti-social activities mentioned in Section 2(b) of the Gangsters Act, who can be termed as ‘Gangster’. A member of a ‘Gang’ acting either singly or collectively may be termed as a member of the ‘Gang’ and comes within the definition of ‘Gang’, provided he/she is found to have indulged in any of the anti-social activities mentioned in Section 2(b) of the Gangsters Act.”

No less significant is what is then stated in para 10 that, “On a fair reading of the definitions of ‘Gang’ contained in Section 2(b) and ‘Gangster’ contained in Section 2(c) of the Gangsters Act, a ‘Gangster’ means a member or leader or organiser of a gang including any person who abets or assists in the activities of a gang enumerated in clause (b) of Section 2, who either acting singly or collectively commits and indulges in any of the anti-social activities mentioned in Section 2(b) can be said to have committed the offence under the Gangsters Act and can be prosecuted and punished for the offence under the Gangsters Act. There is no specific provision under the Gangsters Act, 1986 like the specific provisions under the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act, 1999 and the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organized Crime Act, 2015 that while prosecuting an accused under the Gangsters Act, there shall be more than one offence or the FIR/charge sheet. As per the settled position of law, the provisions of the statute are to be read and considered as it is. Therefore, considering the provisions under the Gangsters Act, 1986 as they are, even in case of a single offence/FIR/charge sheet, if it is found that the accused is a member of a ‘Gang’ and has indulged in any of the anti-social activities mentioned in Section 2(b) of the Gangsters Act, such as, by violence, or threat or show of violence, or intimidation, or coercion or otherwise with the object of disturbing public order or of gaining any undue temporal, pecuniary, material or other advantage for himself or any other person and he/she can be termed as ‘Gangster’ within the definition of Section 2(c) of the Act, he/she can be prosecuted for the offences under the Gangsters Act. Therefore, so far as the Gangsters Act, 1986 is concerned, there can be prosecution against a person even in case of a single offence/FIR/charge sheet for any of the anti-social activities mentioned in Section 2(b) of the Act provided such an anti-social activity is by violence, or threat or show of violence, or intimidation, or coercion or otherwise with the object of disturbing public order or of gaining any undue temporal, pecuniary, material or other advantage for himself or any other person.”

As we see, the Bench then points out in para 11 that, “In the present case, it is alleged that the main accused P.C. Sharma was a gang leader and who was the mastermind and he hatched the criminal conspiracy along with other co-accused including the appellant herein to commit the murder of the deceased Sadhna Sharma for a pecuniary benefit as there was a property dispute going on since long between the family members. It is also to be noted that the other co-accused were already charge sheeted/prosecuted for the offence under the Gangsters Act and therefore the appellant and the other two co-accused being members of the ‘Gang’ were also required to be prosecuted for the offences under the Gangsters Act also like other co-accused. Therefore, in the facts and circumstances of the case, it cannot be said that no prosecution could have been initiated against the appellant-accused for the offences under Sections 2/3 of the Gangsters Act, 1986.”

Finally, the Bench then concludes by holding in para 12 that, “In view of the above discussion and for the reasons stated above, the High Court has rightly refused to quash the criminal proceedings against the appellant-accused under Sections 2/3 of the Gangsters Act, 1986, in exercise of powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C. We are in complete agreement with the view taken by the High Court. Under the circumstances, the present appeals fail and the same deserve to be dismissed and are accordingly dismissed.”

In conclusion, the Apex Court has made it indubitably clear that the prosecution under the UP Gangsters Act is permissible even in case of single FIR/charge sheet for anti-social activities. It thus merits no reiteration that the Apex Court has very rightly refused to quash the criminal proceedings against the accused under the UP Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986. There can be just no denying or disputing it!

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Legally Speaking

Supreme Court: Commercial Transactions Outside Purview Of Consumer Protection Act 1986

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The Supreme Court in the case Annapurna B. Uppin And Ors. Versus Malsiddappa And Anr. observed wherein the complaints is filed seeking recovery of the investment from which the complainant is deriving benefit in the form of interest cannot be entertained under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986. The bench comprising of Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Satish Chandra Sharma in the case observed and has stated that it was a commercial transaction (investment) and therefore also would be outside the purview of the 1986 Act.

The court in the case stated that Commercial disputes cannot be decided in summary proceeding as stated under the 1986 Act but the appropriate remedy for recovery of the said amount, if any, admissible to the complainant respondent No.1, would be before the Civil Court. Thus, the complaint was not maintainable. The aforesaid observations came in the judgement authored by Justice Vikram Nath while deciding the civil appeal preferred by the appellants, the Legal heirs of the partner of the firm against the decision of the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission, NCDRC.

The present case relates to the alleged for the non-payment of the respondent no.1, the investment amount by the appellant(s). The respondent also had invested an amount of Rs. 5 lakhs in the partnership firm, wherein the husband of appellant’s was a partner to be repayable after 120 months with interest @ 18% per annum.

On the other hand, the Respondent No. 1 sought for the premature release of the invested amount but was asked to wait till the maturity period and when the amount was not returned even after the end of the maturity period, thus, he filed a consumer complaint claiming the said amount. Therefore, the Forums at various levels allowed the respondent No. 1 i.e., complaint, following which the appellant approached the Supreme Court.

Arguments:

It was also contended before the court Supreme Court by the appellants that the transaction to invest in the partnership firm was commercial and the consumer complaint filed seeking recovery of the investment made by respondent no. 1. Would not be maintainable under the 1986 Act. It has also been contended by the appellants that the complainant could not seek the recovery of the investment because when the investment was made by respondent no.1, he was the partner of the firm.

Further, it was contended before the court by respondent no.1 that the refusal of the appellants to return the investment amounted to a deficiency of service and therefore, the complaint was maintainable. It also being the case of respondent No.1 that the appellants herein inherited the estate of the Managing Partner Basavaraj Uppin, and hence cannot escape the liability of making the payment due to respondent No.1.

Observations Made By Supreme Court:

The court while finding force in the appellant’s contentions held that the complaint seeking recovery of the investment would not be maintainable under the old act. The court in the case noted that respondent no.1 would not benefit from the complaint as he was the partner of the partnership firm during the period of the investment made by him.

The court observed that this court is of the considered opinion that once there was a registered partnership deed dated May 27,1996, there is no further document which is placed on record by the complainant-respondent No.1 with regards to the dissolution of the said registered deed which continued till the time when the investment was made by the complainant respondent No.1 on May 21, 2002 and hence the complainant respondent No.1 would be deemed to be partner of the firm.

Deceased Partner Liability Do Not Passes Upon Its Legal Heirs:

The court in the case rejected respondent no.1 or complainant argument that being the legal heirs of the Managing Partner of the firm, the appellants cannot escape from the liability owed by the Managing Partner. It has also been stated by the said court that the legal heirs of a deceased partner do not become liable for any liability of the firm upon the death of the partner.

The court in the case observed that there was no evidence on record in order to show that a fresh partnership deed was executed reconstituting the firm in which the present appellants had become partners so as to take upon themselves the assets and liabilities of the firm. Further, the court stated that the law is well settled that legal heirs of a deceased partner do not become liable for any liability of the firm upon the death of the partner.

The court while considering the facts and circumstances of the case allowed the appeal and the complaint preferred by the complainant or respondent No. 1 was set aside. Accordingly, the court allowed the appeal. The counsel, Mr. C. B. Gururaj, Adv. Mr. Prakash Ranjan Nayak, AOR Mr. Animesh Dubey, Adv. Mr. Debendra Ghosal, Adv. Appeared for the Petitioner(s). The counsel, Mr. Chinmay Deshpande, Adv. Mr. Anirudh Sanganeria, AOR represented the respondent(s).

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Legally Speaking

Former AAP Minister Moves Delhi High Court, Seeks Removal Of Kejriwal From CM’s Post

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In the case Sandeep Kumar v. Arvind Kejriwal and Others, the Delhi High Court observed a petition filed by Aam Aadmi Party MLA Sandeep Kumar seeking the removal of Arvind Kejriwal from the post of Chief Minister of Delhi. Arvind Kejriwal is presently in judicial custody related to an Enforcement Directorate (ED) case concerning the excise policy. This is the third petition seeking such a prayer, with the previous two pleas being rejected by the Division bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Manmohan.

Sandeep Kumar approached the court as a Court of first instance in writ jurisdiction, not as a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), in his individual capacity. He, being a lawyer by profession, claims to be a founding member of the Aam Aadmi Party and a social worker.

The plea filed seeks the issuance of a writ of quo warranto against Kejriwal, calling upon him to show by what authority, qualification, and title he is holding the office of the Chief Minister of Delhi. Additionally, the plea prays for an inquiry to dislodge Kejriwal from the office of the Chief Minister, with or without retrospective effect.

Kumar claims that as a voter of the Delhi Assembly Election, he is personally aggrieved for having a Chief Minister for his Union Territory who has incurred an ‘incapacity to hold the post’ and ‘who can never function as the Chief Minister from custody or prison’ as envisaged by the Constitution of India.

The petitioner argues that Kejriwal has incurred an incapacity to carry out his functions as the Chief Minister of Delhi under the Constitution and therefore, he cannot hold the post. The plea emphasizes that the right to have a government in accordance with the Constitution is a Constitutional Right of every citizen and voter.

Arvind Kejriwal was arrested on the night of March 21 and subsequently remanded to judicial custody until April 15. However, the court refused to entertain a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking Kejriwal’s removal from the post of Chief Minister, observing that there is no scope for judicial interference in the matter, and it is for other organs of the State to examine the issue.

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Delhi High Court Reserved Verdict On Arvind Kejriwal’s Plea Challenging ED Arrest In Liquor Policy Case

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The Delhi High Court in the case Arvind Kejriwal v. Directorate Of Enforcement observed and has reserved verdict on the plea moved by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal challenging his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate, ED in the money laundering case related to the alleged liquor policy scam case.

The bench headed by Justice Sharma in the case observed and has denied any interim relief to Kejriwal and only issued notice on his plea challenging the arrest, as well as his interim application seeking immediate release.

In the present case, Kejriwal is currently in judicial custody. Kejriwal was being arrested on the night of March 21.

The Trial Court in the case remanded him to six days of ED custody, which was extended by further four days. On April 01, he was remanded to judicial custody till April 15.

It has been stated by the Enforcement Directorate, ED that Kejriwal is the kingpin and the key conspirator of the excise scam and there were reasons to believe on the basis of material in its possession that he was guilty of the offence of money laundering.

It has also been alleged that the Aam Aadmi party was the ‘major beneficiary’ of the proceeds of the crime and has committed the offence through Kejriwal.

The response stated that, the Aam Aadmi Party, AAP is the major beneficiary of the proceeds of crime generated in the Delhi Liquor Scam. The Sh Arvind Kejriwal was and is not only the brain behind the AAP but also controls its major activities, he was also one of the founding members and was also involved in the decision making of the policy as evident from the statements of the witnesses.

Arguments:

The counsel, Additional Solicitor General SV Raju told the Court that investigation qua the sitting CM is at a nascent stage. Thus, he also pointed that Kejriwal has not challenged the latest order remanding him to 15 days judicial custody. He has also challenged the first remand order. Please look at the remand order of 26 March. Today we are on April 3. The second remand order is passed on March 28. That has not been challenged. Thus, the third remand order of judicial custody has not been challenged. So today his custody isn’t pursuant to arrest or first remand order, it’s pursuant to April 1 order which has not been challenged. Therefore, Raju also wondered if Kejriwal can challenge his remand since he did not oppose it. ‘He voluntarily accepts please remand me further. Can he challenge the remand order? Or is it barred by waiver? They are blowing hot and cold at the same time. You cant challenge the remand order and say please pass the order and accept it. They have not challenged the latest orders pursuant to which he is in custody. Thus, custody can’t be said to be illegal.”

The counsel, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appearing for Kejriwal argued before the court that the central probe agency did not comply with Section 50 PMLA which empowers it to issue summons, collect evidence, etc. thus, it being clear that section 50 involves an inquiry. Because it’s inquiry which enables ED to make up mind about arrest and prosecution. No attempt is made to record my section 50 even at my residence. While pointing out the remand application he added ED wants to “find out” the role of Chief Minister. ‘Surely that’s not a ground for today’s arrest… There has to be specific role of the petitioner, even for the company, which I’m denying.’

On the other hand, it has been argued by the ASG that the fact that a PMLA offence has taken place is clear and beyond any doubt. Because as far as first Police Custody and subsequent Police Custody is concerned, court has taken cognizance… Categorical finding that there is money laundering. Cognizance of the offence of money laundering. Nobody has challenged the order.

It has also been contended by the Singhvi that ED forced the approvers Raghav Magunta, Sarath Reddy and Magunta Reddy to make statements against Kejriwal. Further, it has been alleged that two approvers even have links with the ruling party. Adding to it, Singhvi stated that initial statements that did not implicate Kejriwal are not even put on record by the ED. ‘These statements are kept in unrelied. Why should the court not see it? Is it fair? What cannon of fairness are you carrying ED? Out of 13 statements by this Reddy. He says nothing in 11 statements. The judge will go by one statement?’

He also questioned the necessity of arrest amid upcoming general elections. The test is not can arrest. It is demonstrating the necessity to arrest. The should arrest test. The necessity to arrest immediately before elections… the only object is to insult, humiliate and disable… So that the petitioner is unable to participate in the election process and to try to demolish the party before the first vote is cast. The timing reeks of basic structure issue, free and fair election issue and democracy issue. What is this urgency or necessity?

Further, Singhvi stated that it said to be a flight risk, given his deep roots in the society. Responding to this ASG stated that, supposing a political person commits murder two days before elections. This means he can’t be arrested? Basic structure comes into play? Criminals are supposed to be arrested and put in jail. In such cases there is no infringement of basic structure.

Further, it has been argued by ASG that calculation was done as to why 5 percent profit was made 12 percent in the new policy. “Only inference is that it was done so that 7 percent of portion is used for giving kickbacks. The fact that there is a scam is beyond doubt. Howsoever hue and cry you make, its a fact that a scam was there… Finding of the actual proceeds of crime is irrelevant if we make out a case that you were involved in money laundering.

Facts of the Case:

Kejriwal had skipped nine summons issued to him by ED. The Aam Aadmi Party leaders Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh are also accused in the case and are presently in judicial custody. While following his arrest, Kejriwal had promptly moved an urgent petition before the Supreme Court challenging his arrest. However, the same was withdrawn later. Kejriwal has previously moved the Delhi High Court, the division bench wherein it challenged the summons issued to him by the central probe agency. He has also filed an application seeking interim protection. The matter is fixed for hearing on April 22. The Kejriwal has skipped the summons, claiming that they are illegal.

It has also been alleged by the ED that Arvind Kejriwal is the ‘kingpin’ of Delhi excise scam and is directly involved in the use of proceeds of crime accounting to over Rs. 100 crores. It being the case of ED’s that the excise policy was implemented as part of a conspiracy to give wholesale business profit of 12 percent to certain private companies, although such a stipulation was not mentioned in the minutes of meetings of Group of Ministers, GoM. Further, it has also been claimed by the Central agency that there was a conspiracy that was coordinated by Vijay Nair and other individuals along with South Group to give extraordinary profit margins to wholesalers. According to the agency, Nair was acting on behalf of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia.

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Delhi High Court CM Arvind Kejriwal’s ED Custody extended By 4 Days Till April 1 In Liquor Policy Case

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The Delhi High Court in the case Surjit Singh Yadav v. Union Of India observed and has remanded the Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to Enforcement Directorate, ED custody till April 01 in the money laundering case which relates to the alleged liquor policy scam case. Arwind Kejriwal was being arrested on the night of March 21, 2024. The Special CBI judge Kaveri Baweja of the Rouse Avenue Courts passed the order after Kejriwal was produced in court on the expiry of his six days of Enforcement Directorate, ED custody.

The Delhi High Court in the case declined any interim relief to Kejriwal and only issued notice on his plea challenging the arrest and remand. The counsel, Additional Solicitor General SV Raju told the court that the sitting CM was giving “evasive replies” during interrogation and the agency needs to confront him with some individuals who have been summoned from Goa. Thus, ED sought 7 more days of custody. He doesn’t get exonerated if he is a CM. There is no different standards for a CM. Right to arrest a CM is no different from an ordinary man.”

Yesterday, the Enforcement Directorate, ED summoned AAP’s Goa unit chief Amit Palekar and some other party leaders for questioning. Thus, they have been asked to appear at the agency’s Goa office on March 28, 2024. Further, the Kejriwal while appearing in person submitted before the court that he is not opposing remand. He claimed the entire case is a ‘political conspiracy’ and there is no such material against him. It has also been alleged by the Delhi CM that the central probe agency was collecting selective material and even the approver was forced to make a statement against him. Further, the central probe agency submitted before the court that Kejriwal has refused to share the password of his mobile phone.

Adding to it, Kejriwal responded that ED cannot force him to unlock his electronic gadgets. Delhi High Court Rejected PIL For Removal Of Arvind Kejriwal From Post Of Chief Minister The Delhi High Court rejected the Public Interest Litigation, PIL moved seeking removal of Arvind Kejriwal, who has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate, ED in the liquor policy case, from the post of Chief Minister of Delhi. The Division bench comprising of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora in the case observed and has stated that the petitioner failed to show any bar in the law which prohibits the arrested CM from holding office. The CJI orally stated that, ‘Show us, where is the prohibition. Show us any legal bar which you’re canvassing’.

Further, the bench stated that there is no scope for judicial interference in the matter and the executive is examining the issue. The court in the case observed that if there is a constitutional failure, President or Governor will act on it…Is there any scope for judicial interference in this? The LG is examining the issue. It will go to the President. It belongs to a different wing. There is no scope for judicial interference in this. In the present case, the petition is moved by one Surjit Singh Yadav, a Delhi resident claiming to be a farmer and social worker. It has been claimed by him before the court that a Chief Minister accused of a financial scandal should not be permitted to continue in public office. Kejriwal is presently in ED custody which ends on March 28, 2024. It has been submitted by Yadav in the PIL that Kejriwal’s continuation in the post would not only lead to obstruction of due process of law and disrupt the course of justice, but also would lead to a breakdown of the constitutional machinery in the State as Kejriwal does not satisfy most of the limbs of Article 163 and 164 of the Constitution of India owing to his incarceration.

Further, the plea stated that the Respondent No.4 has virtually forfeited his office as a Chief Minister of account of being arrested and as he is in the Custody he has disabled himself from performing the duties and responsibilities of being a public servant and as such he ought not to continue as a Chief Minister. Therefore, the AAP Ministers have been making statements in the media that Kejriwal will not resign from the post and if need be, he will run the government from inside the prison.

It has been submitted by Yadav that a jailed CM would be incapable of transacting any business that the law enjoins upon him and if he is allowed to do so, any material, irrespective of its secretive nature, would have to be scanned thoroughly by the prison authorities before it reaches Kejriwal’s hands and such an act would amount to direct breach of oath of secrecy administered to the CM under the Third Schedule of the Constitution. Further, the plea stated that the Transaction of Business of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Rules, 1993 empowers a CM to call for files from any department of the Cabinet and if Kejriwal continues as CM, he would be well within his rights to demand for the investigation of files wherein he has been arraigned as an accused.

The plea states that, such a situation is against the ethos of Criminal Jurisprudence. Therefore, Yadav had prayed the Court to issue a writ in the nature of Quo Warranto, calling upon Kejriwal to answer under what authority he is holding the post of CM and consequently remove him. However, Yadav has also filed another PIL seeking to prevent Kejriwal from issuing directions or orders while in ED custody. About The Case: The Kejriwal had skipped nine summons which were issued to him by the Enforcement Directorate, ED.

The Aam Aadmi Party leaders Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh are also accused in the case and are presently in judicial custody. The Kejriwal while following the arrest of him had promptly moved an urgent petition before the Supreme Court challenging his arrest. Later, the same was withdrawn. Therefore, Kejriwal has previously moved the Delhi High Court (division bench) challenging the summons issued to him by the central probe agency. Further, the Kejriwal has also filed an application seeking interim protection.

The matter was fixed for hearing on April 22. It has been alleged by ED that two criminal complaints had been filed against Kejriwal in city’s Rouse Avenue Courts alleging non-compliance of the summons by him. Kejriwal has skipped the summons, claiming that they are illegal. It has been alleged by the ED that Arvind Kejriwal is the ‘kingpin’ of Delhi excise scam and is directly involved in the use of proceeds of crime accounting to over Rs. 100 crores.

It being the case of ED that the excise policy was implemented as part of a conspiracy to give wholesale business profit of 12 percent to certain private companies, although such a stipulation was not mentioned in the minutes of meetings of Group of Ministers, GoM. It has been claimed by the Central Agency that there was a conspiracy that was coordinated by Vijay Nair and other individuals along with South Group to give extraordinary profit margins to wholesalers.

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Supreme Court: Plea To Stay Citizenship Amendment Act

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The Supreme Court in the case was hearing the application filed to stay the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 and the Citizenship Amendment Rules 2024.

The bench comprising of CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra was hearing the present matter. In the present case, the court was hearing the 237 writ petitions challenging the CAA, filed in 2019.

Therefore, these petition before the Court on October 31, 2022. The Union Government notified the Citizenship Amendment Rules 2024 to implement the CAA and notified the formation of committees at the State or UT levels to process the applications on March 11.

The petitioner are Political party Indian Union Muslim League (IUML, the lead petitioner in the case), Democratic Youth Front of India (DYFI, youth wing of the CPI(M)), All Assam Students Union, Assam opposition leaders Debrabata Saika and Abdul Khaleque, State of Kerala, AIMIM head Asaduddin Owaisi, Socialist Democratic Party of India etc.,

The Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal told the court that there was no question of a pause back then since the rules were not notified. Adding to it, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta then said that the fact that the rules were notified before the elections was irrelevant.

The party leader Jairam Ramesh has stated that, the pposition has slammed the Narendra Modi government over the timing of the law’s implementation – four years after it cleared the Parliament. The move is “evidently designed to polarise the elections, especially in West Bengal and Assam”.

Further, the Trinamool Congress chief and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee stated that she doubts the legality of CAA and alleged a conspiracy to “snatch citizenship rights. The Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee says that, BJP leaders say CAA gives you rights. But the moment you apply for citizenship, you become illegal migrants and you will lose your rights. You will lose rights and be taken to detention camps. Please think before you apply. The Centre has trashed the Opposition’s allegations. Stressing that the CAA is not “unconstitutional”, Home Minister Amit Shah has accused the Opposition of resorting to the “politics of lies”.

Amit Shah stated that, On the timing of the law’s implementation, “BJP made it clear in its 2019 manifesto that it will bring CAA and provide Indian citizenship to refugees (from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan). BJP has a clear agenda and under that promise, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed in both houses of Parliament in 2019. It got delayed due to Covid.” Further, Amit Shah stated that, minorities of the country “need not be afraid because CAA has no provision to take back the rights of any citizen”.

Court Hearing:

The bench passed an order appointing separate nodal counsels for petitions which relates t0o States of Assam and Tripure. The Adv Ankit Yadav appointed for the petitioners’ side and Adv Kanu Agarwal for the Petitioners.
Sibal: the moment something like this happens, give us liberty to move here.
CJI: We are here.
Jaising : Would your lordships be pleased to say that any citizenship granted will be subject to the outcome of the petitions.
SG : No, no.
CJI : They don’t have the infrastructure in place, the committee..
SG : This attempt was made outside the court four years back. Misleading people that you will be out of NRC. Same thing Mr. Pasha did. NRC is not an issue here. Grant of citizenship is. Please don’t do this. Nizam Pasha : Muslim members left out of NRC will be prejudiced.. 19 lakhs people left out of NRC, it applies to them.
SG : NRC is not an issue
CJI : They are not willing to make a statement, that is why we keep on April 9.
Sibal : If something happens, we will come..
CJI : What we will do is we will keep on April 9, 2024.
Jaising : In the meantime no citizenship.
SG : I am not making any statement.
SC : We direct the proceedings be listed on April 9, 2024.
Sibal : In meantime no citizenship be granted.
SG: Realistically speaking, I need 4 weeks.
CJI : You can file response in one case, opposing interim prayer.
SG : Many matters have different contentions.
Sibal : Then make a statement that no citizenship will be granted
CJI dictates order : On 22.01.2020 notice was issued. The rules have been
recently notified. This has given rise to applications for stay. SG submits that 4 weeks’ time be granted to file response. The request of 4 weeks’ time is opposed on the ground that in the meantime if citizenship is granted, it will be irreversible.
Sibal : There are serious issues of constitutionality.
Sr Adv Ranjit Kumar (for migrant) : From Balochistan, I came to India because I was persecuted. If I am given citizenship, how is it affecting them?
Jaising : They will get the right to vote!.

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Delhi High Court: ED summons cannot be quashed merely because documents required for confrontation or probe not specified in it

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The Delhi High Court in the case Mr Talib Hassan Darvesh v. The Directorate Of Enforcement observed and has said that the summons issued by Enforcement Directorate, ED cannot be quashed merely because relevant documents are required for investigation or confrontation with an accused who have not been specified in them.

The bench of Justice Anoop Kumar Mendiratta in the case observed and has stated that the summoning, in exercise of statutory powers, cannot be stalled merely on mere apprehension that the accused may be arrested and prosecuted on basis of summons issued after registration of ECIR in the proceedings which are initiated by the Enforcement Directorate, ED. The court in the case observed and has denied the interim relief to Talib Hassan Darvesh, the accused in the money laundering case.

Before the court, he also sought a stay on the summons which is issued to him by Enforcement Directorate, ED and to restrain the probe agency from taking any further coercive steps against him. Therefore, the Enforcement Directorate, ED opposed the petition which being on the ground that Darvesh cannot be insulated from any coercive action at the initial stage itself and no protective orders could be passed in his favour, ignoring the mandate of Section 45 of PMLA.

It has also been submitted before the court that the proceedings which are initiated by ED were an independent investigation into money laundering allegations based upon the ECIR and the benefit could not be granted which being merely on account of orders granting anticipatory bail to Darvesh in FIR registered by CBI.

The court stated while denying the relief that the summons issued by the Enforcement Directorate, ED cannot be quashed merely because the relevant documents required for purpose of investigation or confrontation to the petitioner, have not been specified in the summons. Adding to it, the court stated that since ECIR is an internal document which is being created before initiation of prosecution against persons involved with process or activity connected with proceeds of crime and it is not necessary to reveal the evidence collected by the Enforcement Directorate, ED at this stage in the summons forwarded to Darvesh.

Further, the court stated that the petitioner is yet to be absolved of scheduled offence by way of discharge, acquittal or quashing and as such protection orders cannot be issued in favour of petitioner ignoring the mandate as it is stated under Section 45 of PMLA, 2002 for grant of bail. Further, the court stated that summoning in exercise of statutory powers cannot be stalled merely on mere apprehension that petitioner may be arrested and prosecuted on basis of summons issued after registration of ECIR, in proceedings initiated by Enforcement Directorate, ED.

The court while considering the facts and circumstances of the case observed and found no grounds for interim relief to be made out at this stage, thus, the court disposed of the plea. Accordingly, the court the petition seeking to quash of the ECIR and summons for hearing on May 07.

The counsel, Advocates Mr. Siddharth Luthra and Mr. Siddharth Agarwal, Sr. Advs. with Mr. Ayush Agarwal, Mr. Udhav Sinha, Mr. Amar Gahlot, Ms. Srishty Jaura, Mr. Nalin Bajaj, Ms. Purvi Garg and Mr. Prashant Singh appeared for the Petitioner. The counsel, Advocates Mr. Zoheb Hossain, Special Counsel for E.D. with Mr. Vivek Gurnani, Mr. Kartik Sabharwal and Mr. Abhigiya represented the respondent.

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